Editor’s Column: People Used to Talk?



I was sitting at a table eating dinner with my close friends when one of them held up her Blackberry like Simba being presented over the Pride and announced that a new boy had texted her. The moment she explained that she and the boy had met at the Jug, the entire table burst out in laughter. Nobody meets at the Jug, let alone in person, past 10 at night without having had thoroughly unraveled every available detail to be excavated from their Facebook page. She blushed and tried to defend herself, “It’s not that weird!” prompting another bout of laughter and ultimate denial marked by eight vigorously shaking heads.

My friend, call her Jane, took the flak and pressed on as she told us about her plans to meet the new boy somewhere that night. In her room, in his, a civil post-dinner cof­fee at the Coop: it didn’t matter. Any brand of this type of rendezvous, the kind entered into without having done the proper Facebook research, seemed absurdly awkward and downright idiotic.

Then we started wondering: what did people do before Facebook? How in the world did anyone meet anyone without already having spent hours unearthing every last detail about his or her religion, relationship status, fraternity, sorority, hobbies, music taste or fashion sense?

What did people do when the world wasn’t laid out for them? Even without Facebook, it is easy to ask a friend to get a background check on the hot slice that is always on the elliptical when you are waiting for a treadmill. Colgate makes it simple. There are only 3,000 of us and we don’t all run in the same social circles. Someone I know is bound to be well acquainted with the cute blonde boy I love, but know nothing about.

So what happens when I move to New York or Washington, D.C. or Buenos Aires or back to San Francisco and have to go about maneuvering the dating world without any way to hedge my bets and secretly research the men that I meet?

It seems as though the security of our not-so-private social world at Colgate has formed the perfect storm with Mark Zuckerberg to render me, or any of us for that matter, at least slightly socially inept when it actually comes to presenting ourselves well and be­ing even the tiniest bit suave when we open our mouths to talk to someone to whom we are attracted.Let’s face it, a few years from now on some Friday night date when various Colgate alums find themselves sitting across from the potential Mr. or Ms. Right at a dimly lit table, we’re going to run out of cute anecdotes to recount and texting “Sorry, I was in the shower” to buy time isn’t going to cut it anymore.

We will not be able to gather a group of eight friends to council us through our next BBM response, and there is no way of knowing whether that hot boy’s tattoos are ghetto-fabulous or super religious. We just won’t know until we get the courage to ask. The outlook of our generation is based on the assumption that we will always enter into meet-and-greets having already had a little preview, and that we will always have as much time as we want to ponder the most adorable one-liners and spout them out as if we are some flirting gurus, but that just isn’t the case.

So maybe my friend Jane isn’t going down such a bad path when she stops to talk to some cute guy at the Jug. Perhaps doing a little bit of training now while the dimly lit tables are beer-drenched counter tops and the only thing we have to lose is a buddy to sit with on the 2 a.m. cruiser home is a smart move. While I understand the occasional need to have a balls-out solo night, I am also afraid that one too many outings sans normal, personal interaction is going to make us all just a little too robotic. We need more Janes, and more Jacks for that matter too.

The big issue, really, is getting everyone on the bandwagon. Nobody wants to be “that girl” who creepily approaches a target with the intentions of having a deep conversation and not all of us possess Jane’s mystical womanly wiles. And there is little we can do to eliminate the monstrous effects of Facebook on our social outlooks. So I guess it’s just all about compromise: Facebook me, let’s talk sometime.